The Influence of a Padded Hand Wrap on Punching Force in Elite and Untrained Punchers

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Punching is integral to success in combat sports, making it a frequent activity during practice/training. Improving safety of this activity benefits both the athlete and training partners. This study was designed to 1) test the precision and reliability of a commercially available striking device and 2) assess the influence of a novel padded hand wrap on punching force in elite and untrained punchers. Fourteen male professional boxers and mixed martial artists (PRO; age=29.2±5.6y; height=180.3±9.0cm; mass=87.1±17.9kg, winning %=73.8±13.8%, number of victories via knockout/technical knockout=35.6± 21.9%) and 24 untrained male punchers (UNT; 27.6±6.9y, 177.6±18.3cm, 84.3±16.9kg) wore a standardized boxing glove and performed 20 maximal punches (4 sets of 5) into a device designed to measure punching force. All participants performed, in a counterbalanced order, 2 sets of 5 with a standardized hand wrap and 2 sets of 5 with the same wrap plus an additional 1.2cm thick cylinder 4g foam-like pad (WRAP) placed over the knuckles. PRO produced significantly more punching force than UNT, regardless of condition. Punching force was lower by 12.6% (p<0.05) for PRO and 8.9% (p<0.05) for UNT with WRAP (compared to no WRAP). These findings suggest WRAP significantly reduces punching force, which may be important for long-term safety of the puncher’s hand and/or the person receiving the strike.